Saturday, January 28, 2017

Still Riding

This winter has been mild so far. We have had only a few truly "cold" days. With temperatures in the 40's outside, I've been riding on weekend days when I have enough daylight to go.

I took out this 1941 Schwinn New World earlier today.

Monday, January 16, 2017


 Anytime you can slip in a decent ride in January, you are ahead of the game. I cut back my riding in the winter because of the negative effects of road salt on steel bicycles, but if the roads are clean enough and the weather reasonable, then I ride.

Today I took this 1941 Schwinn New World out for a spin. It was a chilly, grey day, but not too bad for riding with a proper winter kit. My winter kit is composed of heavy corduroy pants, a lined sweatshirt, and a medium weight ski coat. I wear boot socks and ankle boots to keep my feet warm.

For a helmet, I have a Bern helmet with winter ear flap liner. These winter liners really are great, and you can swap them out for a summer liner once warm weather returns.


Thursday, January 5, 2017

"Do the Simple Things Well"

I recently read that one of the few surviving members of the Shaker sect died a few days ago in Maine. This got me to thinking a little bit about one of the sect's beliefs in quality of craftsmanship while maintaining a simple design.

Shaker-made furniture is a great example of this view: finding meaning and spiritual value in simple designs built by hand, with a high degree of craftsmanship.

This is a philosophy I have always tried to follow in working on and re-building bicycles, but one that I think deserves reiterating. Awhile back, I wrote about the plain design of vintage utility bicycles like the Raleigh Sports, Schwinn New World, and Hercules Model C. These are plain designs with a high degree of quality in manufacturing, a quality I tried to maintain in re-building them.

I urge everyone working with vintage bicycles to try this approach in 2017; that is, try a build where you focus on simplicity of design but maximum quality in executing that design. A three speed utility bicycle would be a great start to such a project.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

New Year's Goals and Resolutions

It's time to think about goals for 2017, including resolutions related to my bike collection. I think this is the year of back-to-basics.

1. Focus on maintenance, not acquisition: the idea here is quality and condition over quantity. I have plenty of bikes, probably too many. So the goal here is simple- focus on keeping what I already have clean, oiled, aired-up, and ready to ride. This should take up more time than finding, buying, and building new acquisitions. Ideally, I'd like to not buy any bicycles this year, and to spend my time appreciating what I have already.

2. Downsize, if possible: this is hard - to reduce the collection down to a core of riders that I really like, and sell off anything I am not riding. I do think I have graduated fully to riding utility-type bikes: 3,4 and 5-speed roadsters and light roadsters. I think I will sell my 1950 Columbia ballooner. I bought the bike quite a few years ago, but I rode it only a couple of times in 2016. The utility bikes are just that much better.

3. Consider building and selling parts: I have done well to reduce and focus my parts bins on just the stuff I need. I don't have a whole lot of extra stuff. What I do have that is extra, I'd like to build up into full components (e.g., wheel sets rather than having rims around) and either keep them or sell them.

4. Ride as much as humanly possible, given my schedule. This one is the most fun of the group, but you need to make the time to ride when you have the opportunity and good weather. Don't waste daylight or a nice day indoors... ever. Life is too short to be browsing the internet or watching YouTube when it's 75 degrees and sunny out.